Monday, September 8, 2008

The Casual Closure Argument Of The Physical Universe

I think it's important to mention an common argument by materialist's the casual closure of the physical universe . Quantum physicist Henry Stapp rebuts this by saying that both Dennett’s book Freedom Evolves and Searle’s book Mind are based on the premises of classical—not quantum—physics.

Stapp pointed out that both of these thinkers assume the causal closure of the physical, by which is meant that the physical world at all times is completely determined for all times by the physical laws. At any given moment, the physical world (e.g., the locations and velocities of all particles) is thus closed off from "external" causal influence. The result of this classical view is that any so-called mental or volitional input is viewed as essentially redundant, or unnecessary. Stapp emphasized that the physics of the 20th century, quantum mechanics, has departed in dramatic and significant ways from the ideas of classical physics. Stapp mentioned briefly some of the faulty reasoning that is apparent in Searle’s book. For example, he noted that by the end of Searle’s argument, he does not even reconcile the basic points and premises that he started the book with—and this is coming from one of America’s leading philosophers! Stapp said that the main point Searle ends with is that the familiar Cartesian concepts most philosophers employ must be revised because they are causing so much conceptual confusion. Overall, Stapp highlighted the strange fact that two of the most prominent philosophers today, Dennett and Searle, are still acting as if they were largely ignorant of the fundamental facts of quantum theory. Stapp’s view, by contrast, maintains that orthodox quantum theory leads naturally to the view that consciousness is efficacious in the physical world. Mind does indeed influence matter. Thus, the physical world cannot be causally closed-off from mind.


Andrea Runyan said...

Great post, good to point out that Dennett and Searle, among others, don't take certain aspects of quantum theory into account.

If I were to study quantum theory as it applies to life after death etc., do you recommend any books?

Leo MacDonald said...

One would be Quantum Enigma

Another would be Physicist Henry Stapp's book called the Mindful Universe.

Andrea Runyan said...

thanks! I will check 'em out